Optimistic Bias Among Cigarette Smokers

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, William J. Mcarthy, Nicholas H. Caskey, Todd M. Gross, Murray E. Jarvik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Smokers, unlike other populations engaging in risky behavior, readily acknowledge that tobacco use increases their susceptibility to smoking‐related illness. This study used data from the Adult Use of Tobacco Survey to demonstrate that smokers, while acknowledging increased risk for illness, still show evidence of an optimistic bias in their perception of the hazards of their usual brand of cigarette. Optimism was assessed, first, by grouping respondents by perceived cigarette hazards (higher, lower, or about the same as others), and, second, by comparing Federal Trade Comission (FTC)‐calculated and respondent‐estimated cigarette tar levels. An optimistic bias was observed in all assessments. Perceived cigarette risk was not related to desire to stop smoking, if an easy way to do so were available, nor was it related to the number of previous quit attempts lasting one week or longer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1606-1618
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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